UW-L winter sports camp channeling energy through yoga

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Each year, hundreds of kids head to winter camp at UW-La Crosse to stay fit and healthy, but this year they're taking a break from the traditional sports for some relaxation exercises.

Besides participating in active sports like basketball, volleyball and flag football, kids are working out stress through yoga.

"Boys and girls, can everybody put their hands together in our Namaste?" camp leader Samantha Ruedy said as she directed the students.

It's reaping the benefits of the spiritual, the mental and the physical all in one.

For the past few years, yoga has become more readily accepted in not just the high schools, but also in the middle and elementary schools.

"We taught the kids it can help them sleep better at night (and) help them focus on their school work," said Ruedy. "Things like that."

Because life's busy schedule can keep kids on the go for long stretches of the day, Camp Director Lori Petersen said yoga can help them channel their energy.


"We find that children just sometimes don't know how to step away from the action, step away from the video screens, and take care of themselves," said Petersen. "We're giving them some techniques to help them breath and relax a little bit."

The stretches and breathing techniques are what Petersen said provides kids with an outlet when they don't know what to do with their emotions.

"Sometimes kids can just shut down," said Petersen. "They don't know how to react to certain situations, hyper-tension can set in for kids. "They don't know how to take care of their body take care of their breathing and their body. They're a mess."

While some of the stretches look uncomfortable, yoga seems to be working.
"It's relaxing, kind of," said one camper.

And the hope is, the kids will continue with the exercises far after the camp is done.

"Everybody show me your Namaste," said Ruedy to the kids.

"Yoga's a lifetime activity that they can do hopefully do throughout their life," said Ruedy. "So if they start at a young age, maybe they'll get to enjoy it."

"Alright great job boys and girls," said Ruedy. "We are done with our yoga."

Petersen said yoga just isn't just a healthy way to deal with stress, but it also benefits the respiratory system and helps with blood pressure as well as obesity.

Spots are still open if kids want to join in on the fun.

Parents are asked to bring their kids to the Mitchell Hall Field house at UW-L by 8 a.m. Friday.

Camp ends at 5 p.m.

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